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One of Europe's greatest theatre directors Luc Bondy stages Chekhov's Russian classic Ivanov, featuring a stellar cast from Moscow's famed Theatre of Nations. In April 2015, the production will premiere in Moscow, two months before its Dutch premiere at the Holland Festival.
There are few great stage writers whose plays Luc Bondy has not brought to the theatre. He has produced work by Genet, Büchner, Fassbinder, Ionesco, Shakespeare, Goethe, Ibsen, Botho Strauß, Beckett – the list seems endless. However, he's not often ventured into the realm of the famous Russians, except for a single Möwe (the Seagull, which won him the Nestroy Theatre Prize in 2000). Now he adds Chekhov's Ivanov to the medley, with a cast of the best actors that the Theatre of Nations has to offer.
Ivanov is played by Yevgeny Mironov, a prominent name in Russian theatre and film, who has also appeared abroad in many productions, including directions by Peter Stein, Thomas Ostermeier, Alvis Hermanis, Robert Lepage and Robert Wilson. Mironov has been a member of the Theatre of Nations since 2006. His many awards include the Russian State Prize (twice), first prize for best male lead at Moscow's prestigious Golden Mask Festival (three times) and many other Russian and international acting prizes for theatre and film.
Ivanov's fiancee Anna Petrovna is played by Chulpan Khamatova, who can compete with Mironov when it comes to talent and fame. She has also played in many theatre and film productions, her many awards including the Russian state prize and a Golden Mask. For her lead role in Shukshin’s Stories (invited in 2010 to the Holland Festival) she won the Chrysal Turandot and the Moskovsky Komsomolets awards for best female lead. Khamatova has also been awarded many prizes in film. Alvis Hermanis, Thomas Ostermeier and Peter Stein are among the great directors she has worked with.
The invitation for Bondy to come and work in Moscow is part of the Theatre of Nations' policy to introduce its actors and its audience to the work of significant European theatre makers. Every year, the theatre invites international directors to the various festivals it organises. For the 2014-2015 season artistic director Yevgeny Mironov embarked on an experiment with the classic Russian oeuvre: he invited three great Western directors – Robert Wilson (United States), Luc Bondy (Switzerland) and Robert Lepage (Canada) – to direct Russian repertoire with the company.
Currently the intendant at the Paris Odéon-Théâtre, Bondy was previously director at the Wiener Festwochen and at the Schaubühne Berlin, in addition to his own stage directions. Before his Russian adventure, he had worked in many places all over the world – from La Monnaie in Brussels to the Münchner Kammerspiele, the Metropolitan Opera in New York, the Salzburger Festspielen and the Young Vic in London – but he had never directed a stage play or opera in Russia.
He chose to make his Russian debut directing Ivanov, Anton Chekhov's play about a man in his thirties who is so bored with life that he does not even look for a way out. The various characters are dragged along by his boredom, apathy and fecklessness. 'It's a real challenge,' Bondy said in a radio interview. 'Chekhov is a great author, but it's difficult, because nothing happens.'
Chekhov's debut as a playwright was with this play in the very same theatre which now houses the Theatre of Nations, so this new staging has very special significance. Chekhov wrote Ivanov in 1887 at the request of Fyodor Korsh, founder of the very first private theatre in Moscow, the current State Theatre of Nations. The Theatre of Nations has visited the Holland Festival twice before. In 2013 they performed director Andrej Moguchiy's Circo Ambulante, a subtle, metaphoric critique on the current state of Russian theatre. In 2010, they staged a sparkling, modern performance of Vasily Shukshin's post Stalinist stories under the direction of the Latvian director Alvis Hermanis.
Due to illness of director Luc Bundi the performances of Ivanov have been cancelled.
Ivanov will be replaced by The Cherry Orchard by Maly Drama Theatre, directed by Lev Dodin, on 19, 20 and 21 June.